Every year, local nonprofits and school booster clubs are given the opportunity to raise money at Bonnaroo. Each nonprofit is given a chance to sell beverages and offer other services during the four-day festival. The organizations receive 35 cents per beverage sold and tips.
For the 18th year in a row, the Manchester Chamber of Commerce sold beer. After the success of last year, the chamber was also in the hospitality tents again.
“The Manchester Chamber of Commerce has the great opportunity to sell beverages to Bonnaroovians. We are having a great time. We have seen so many polite, gracious, grateful people and we’re just so lucky to have this kind of exposure as a community,’ said Katy Riddle, chamber director, on Friday, June 14.
This was Riddle’s first Bonnaroo as chamber director.
“It’s going great – it’s only going great because I am surrounded by fantastic workers. We have a great crew, we have some volunteers that have been with us for years and years and years, so they’re showing me the ropes and I appreciate them. They are so happy to be here. We have all kinds of positivity radiation going on in B12,” she said in reference to their booth number.
Coffee County Rescue Squad ran a beer tent and an ice truck out in the campgrounds this year.
“We have to be out here to do rescue on the site. Bonnaroo actually does not pay us to be out here, so a few years ago, they gave us the ability to take some booths out here and do it as a fundraiser for the squad. We’re a nonprofit and get minimal money from the county,” explained CCRS member Mike Cassady.
He expects the sold out crowd to increase their fundraising efforts this year. He explained they’ve seen a bigger crowd on Thursday, June 13 than CCRS did last year’s opening day.
“We greatly appreciate the chance to do it and hope to continue on for many years,” Cassady added.
Park Partners sold beer and their booth was crowded with people throughout the weekend. Manchester Parks and Recreation Activities Coordinator Amanda Morton manned the booth on Thursday, June 13.
“This is awesome,” Morton said about the crowd.
Park Partners is a nonprofit that focus on improving parks in Manchester. This year, they are raising money to fund construction of an inclusive playground in Fred Deadman Park.
If they meet that goal, the remainder of the funds may go toward renovating Riverview School.
Manchester Area Youth Council sold beer this year to raise money to benefit local boy scouts chapter, Camp Forest soccer and the theatre at the University of the South. On Friday, June 14, Rob Bachman said they already sold 16 cases of the regulated Bonnaroo beer cups.
Keep Coffee County Beautiful (KCCB) was onsite again this year passing out free pocket ashtrays, which are provided by Bonnaroo. New to this year, they were also passing out cigarette butt buckets. The goal was to help keep the farm and the local community cigarette butt free.
Coffee County Youth Sports raised money to help cover the entry fees for the anglers throughout their yearly tournament schedule. The money also helps cover hotel expenses for anglers attending national and state tournaments. Petty estimated that around 75 percent of the club’s fundraising comes from Bonnaroo alone. The other 25 percent comes from uniform sponsorships.
Coffee County Bass Club coach Phillip Petty and his wife have operated a tent at the festival since its inception in 2002 and have been in the same beverage tent for five years. Petty’s tent also funded other organizations in addition to the bass club, including the Coffee County Reapers slow pitch softball team and the Coffee County Children’s Advocacy Center.
“We don’t have to double dip on the local businesses around town. All of our fundraising dollars for the most part comes from here,” Petty said. “We do have some local sponsors but that keeps us from having to go out and pound on their door.”
With attendance up this year from 2018, more people meant more opportunities to sell beverages. This uptick was noticed early on Friday afternoon by Petty.
“The crowd so far this year has been great,” Petty said. “One of the Spectrum managers said a little while ago, last night was the best Thursday night they’ve had since we started using the IPads for point of sale.”
Coffee County Central High School Baseball Booster Club operated a beverage booth near the main stage at Bonnaroo. Jamie Spry ran a tent at the festival for the last four years.
The money is then used to take care of supplies needed by Coach David Martin.
“David has a list of stuff that he needs and it goes into the baseball booster fund,” Spry said. “We allot that for field maintenance or uniforms or whatever it may be.”
Bonnaroo is a major revenue generator for the baseball team. In 2018, Spry said the team raised $5,400 from their sales. While this was down from previous years, the larger crowd at this year’s festival meant a larger revenue opportunity.
“Bonnaroo’s fun. The music is great, the people are super nice,” Spry said. “All that people say about Bonnaroo is not really what Bonnaroo’s about. These kids real nice and they’re spending money in Manchester.”
Coffee County Central High School Choir’s booth was led by Erik Petersen, whose wife, Erica, is the choir director at CHS. Petersen has worked at this booth for 18 years. The money raised helps the choir with a variety of expenses, including equipment.
“One of the big expenses if you’re going to be a competing show choir is getting competition-approved risers,” Petersen explained. “They cost about $10,000 so we’ve been saving up this money for four years now, we’ve been putting back about half of what we’ve made for here and I think this year is going to be the year that we actually have enough to purchase them.”
In addition to the risers, the funds cover music and travel expenses. It also helps provide underprivileged members of the choir pay afford to be a part of the organization.
“It goes to help those kids out to make sure they get an equal experience with everybody else,” Petersen said. “It just basically helps us function and helps us exist.”
A Manchester native and CHS alumnus, Petersen has seen the benefits of Bonnaroo fundraising from both sides.
“I was in the band when Bonnaroo gave us 40 grand for new uniforms,” Petersen said. “Getting to be a part of that but also to directly get it back into a part of the community that I’ve invested my time in is just great.”